A perceptive, clear-eyed take on the familiar three-generations-of-women-finding-redemption theme.
Children’s author Meyer’s first adult novel is narrated alternately by grandmother Lavinia and her daughter Dorcas, who have not been especially close over the years. When Lavinia, an octogenarian widow famed for her paintings of Amish farm life, unveils a series of erotic nude paintings at the annual town art show, the town is shocked. Even the national media has shown interest. Dorcas, a divorced teacher in her mid-50s who lives in Connecticut, alerted by an old friend, hurries home to Juniata, Pennsylvania, to see for herself. Dorcas’s job bores her, an affair is going nowhere, and she’s ready for a change. Staying with the feisty and opinionated Lavinia, Dorcas sneaks a peak at the picture her mother has hidden: the woman in the paintings is clearly a young Lavinia, but the handsome nude man is a stranger. When Dorcas impulsively decides to buy a once-grand old house, and turn it into a B&B, Lavinia isn’t sure it’s good idea, and says so. But Dorcas goes ahead and, with the help of old high-school buddy Rod, a recently divorced local builder, she successfully completes the renovation. While Dorcas is busy developing her business and contending with Rod’s interest in her, Lavinia decides to write her memoirs, revealing that she had an affair with the handsome young nude, once a stonecutter employed by her father. Dorcas also revisits her past when daughter Sasha arrives from California, pregnant and with a lesbian lover, en route to see her dying father, Alex (and whom Sasha adores, though Dorcas never loved him). As family secrets, old and new, are revealed—Lavinia is going blind, Sasha feels alienated from her lover—the three women draw closer.
A deftly told tale that will charm more than it surprises.